Author Topic: Dating as a single mom heading towards FIRE  (Read 1120 times)

onlykelsey

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Dating as a single mom heading towards FIRE
« on: August 05, 2018, 11:15:15 AM »
For various reasons that probably demand their own series of posts (sorry for the cliffhanger, posters I know!), I may be dating as a divorced mom of a one-year old (then two year old?) in the next year or so.

I'm freaking myself out about this prospect.  I imagine we'll end with something like a 60/40 custody.  I don't know how money would shake out, but we have a "what's mine is mine and what's yours is yours, no alimony, what you inherit is yours" pre-nup that we both had lawyers for, so hopefully it won't be too bad.  A few things worry me.

  • Generally, casual dating doesn't worry me from a long-term perspective, although it may be difficult to manage as a working mom.
  • More serious dating does worry me, both from the obvious perspective of consideration for my baby, and from the money perspective.  I am definitely interested in dating a self-sufficient man heading towards FIRE, but I don't know how to communicate that without looking like I'm a golddigger.  On the other side, I do not want to be a sugarmama, and I'm not interested in financing other peoples' dreams (again).  How do you present yourself as down the straight and narrow?
  • Relatedly, while I live on about 40% of my post-tax income, I am not as frugal as I once was.  Realistically, a guy living on 40% of a modest (manhattan) income and saving 60K is probably a better match for me than someone living on 80% of a large (Manhattan) income and saving 60K, but I'm not sure I really run in those circles anymore.  Or maybe i'm worried I would come off as bougie or something.  Frankly, although I'd like to trim fat from my budget, I LIKE being able to go to the local Mexican joint and drop $75 on two plus baby to unwind every week or two.
  • On my own if I kept living in Manhattan, I'm probably 45% FIRED.  In many other locales I'd be happy living/have lived before, I'm arguably very close to there.  How do I approach that with guys?  I feel like lots of people dream of escaping Manhattan, so maybe it wouldn't be that hard.  I'd also be willing to continue in Manhattan with a guy who could support himself here either on stash or part-time working.
  • For what it's worth, I haven't been involved with my husband in nearly a year and a half, and I'm not worried about getting over him, although I am worried about life without a co-parent on hand.

Anyone have any responses to these questions?  Other warnings or advice?

marty998

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Re: Dating as a single mom heading towards FIRE
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2018, 06:10:30 PM »
I'd suggest if you find someone that passes your screening process at the casual dating stage (question 1), then question 2 will resolve itself quite easily.

Try not to overthink it and you'll probably know the answer when you see it?

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Dating as a single mom heading towards FIRE
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2018, 09:05:31 AM »
Honestly, this isn't going to be *that* much different from dating when you were a lot further away from FIRE and didn't have a baby...you still need to find someone who has a similar financial and parenting perspective as you, but now you likely have a much better idea how to recognize that.

The good thing about a 60/40 schedule is that 40% of the time you will be available to go out on dates without having to worry about getting a babysitter!  I was clear that my kids came first (which weeds out some of the guys), and when I got serious about someone we worked dates around my kids and his.  We did LOTS of video chatting or phone calls after the children were asleep.    Because the children were so young when we remarried (3,5,7), it was a lot easier to create a family.  The youngest two don't remember life without their stepparents.   

I learned in my first marriage and divorce to rely on what people showed me, not their words. Sometimes they fully believed what they said, but that didn't match their actions at all.  That's one way you will see if someone shares your financial goals, and whether they will actually embrace your child.  (I was more comfortable dating someone who also had a child, because then I could see their parenting in action and I knew they knew what they were getting into.)

A lot of the "rules" I created for myself before I started dating went right out the window (e.g., rather than wait to introduce my kids to someone after we'd been dating 12 months, I got married 13 months after we started dating).  I think a lot of us tend to be more rigid as we are coming off of a divorce - in part due to not wanting to not make certain mistakes again - and that isn't always beneficial in the long run.  Be flexible, but be firm on your absolute deal-breakers and your must-have qualities.

Long personal anecdote -

Spoiler: show

My ex and I married 2 weeks after college graduation.  I worked to support us while he went to grad school for 5 years.  We then had 5 years with awesome combined income and then he decided he wanted a divorce.  Our kids were 2 and 5 when the divorce finalized.  I went on a grand total of 4 first dates in the six months after that, and only one man earned a second date.  I married him a year later and we celebrated our 5-year anniversary earlier this year.

I did not want to ever again be in a position where I'd be supporting someone through school.  I live in a community property state, and I believe in joint finances, and I did not want that kind of risk again.

When dating now-H, I discovered I made almost 3x what he did.  His salary was tiny, and his savings was therefore tiny....but he did have savings, and he was frugal.  He confessed that one day he wanted to go back to school....and I almost choked.  I was very honest with him about why that statement scared the bejeebers out of me .  He was honest about how the income mismatch bothered him a little.  We had lots of conversations about it. 

Two years after we married, he quit work to go back to school full-time, with my full blessing.  By then, I had gotten over a lot of my baggage from my first marriage and I knew that THIS marriage is in a much stronger spot than the last.

Plus, it was a blessing for our family to have him as a part-time SAHD for three years.  AND, since we had already been living comfortably on part of my salary, anything he earned was gravy.  We did many many many calculations on how going back to school would affect our time to FIRE.

dsw

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Re: Dating as a single mom heading towards FIRE
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2018, 10:47:19 AM »
There's good advice above, and of course your experiences/preferences will vary. I have a bit of a different situation, but I will chime in to encourage you to take your time in figuring this out. As I've gotten older, I've put a lot less pressure on myself or the relationship that I'm in to make everything work. My current relationship (four years) is with someone who has a bit different outlook on spending and is at a different income level. Money conversations have been difficult at times, but we've gotten better with it over the years. We're definitely on different retirement timelines.

We're in a committed relationship and we see each other a lot, but we also have a substantial degree of independence. We may cohabit/marry/etc. down the road, but there won't be kids. We've mostly taken the approach of just being honest and kind with each other and not try to solve for problems that don't exist yet. At this point in my life, I'm very protective of my independence and I don't intend to give that up. I actually believe this has made me substantially better in a relationship than I have been in the past.

Especially coming out of a divorce, I'd recommend exploring your own independence and seeing how it suits you. It might give you a chance to figure out which parts of your life you don't want to compromise on and which parts are more flexible.

Good luck to you! I hope you're able to find a situation that makes you happy.

onlykelsey

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Re: Dating as a single mom heading towards FIRE
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2018, 12:38:05 PM »
I'd suggest if you find someone that passes your screening process at the casual dating stage (question 1), then question 2 will resolve itself quite easily.

Try not to overthink it and you'll probably know the answer when you see it?
You're right.  But I want to know everything NOW! 

onlykelsey

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Re: Dating as a single mom heading towards FIRE
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2018, 12:45:47 PM »
Honestly, this isn't going to be *that* much different from dating when you were a lot further away from FIRE and didn't have a baby...you still need to find someone who has a similar financial and parenting perspective as you, but now you likely have a much better idea how to recognize that.

....

I learned in my first marriage and divorce to rely on what people showed me, not their words. Sometimes they fully believed what they said, but that didn't match their actions at all.  That's one way you will see if someone shares your financial goals, and whether they will actually embrace your child. ...
This is exactly my husband.  I guess I didn't entertain the idea that a non-sociopath 30 year old man would not actually follow through on literally ANY of the reasonable goals he set for himself.  His actions never back up his words, although he definitely has the wish that they did.  He's not actively manipulative, he really believes his promises himself.

That's a heartwarming (and not very long) personal story.  I think I made the mistake of investing more in to his dreams than he was willing to (and not getting any buy in on mine).  It's fueled so much resentment, I'd love to find a relationship where I felt comfortable doing something like funding their education again.  I've been in healthier relationships before, so hopefully there's another one in the future for me!

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Dating as a single mom heading towards FIRE
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2018, 03:43:58 PM »
I think I made the mistake of investing more in to his dreams than he was willing to (and not getting any buy in on mine).  It's fueled so much resentment, I'd love to find a relationship where I felt comfortable doing something like funding their education again.  I've been in healthier relationships before, so hopefully there's another one in the future for me!

I have a lot stronger boundaries this time around and that plus choosing a heck of a lot better has kept the resentment fairy mostly away.  A divorce done right (hahahahaha) really does make you learn a lot about yourself and your needs, as well as your personal relationship strengths and weaknesses.

You'll be fine.  Really.